Sunday, December 31, 2006


I'm a time addict.

I think I always have been. I calculated at an early age in elementary school how old I would be when the year 2000 occured. (27) for those counting. Now at age 34, time still has very real meaning. I could go into all of the cliches about how time is moving faster as I'm growing older (which it is) but that wouldn't be helpful in explaining how very real time is for me.

I visualize time. I keep track of where I am in a year by visualizing months on a horizontal loop sort of like a Mobius Strip. I'm standing on January looking across the loop to June and July. Somehow January always feels like "south" to me (probably having to do with the Sun).

This concept also applies to weeks (Sunday is opposite Wednesday/Thursday) and to the day, although daily time is visualized in a vertical loop that spins...sort of like the big wheel on "The Price is Right."

This is how I go about keeping my mind organized. I use calendars and my Palm Zire 72 to keep events in order, but when I'm organizing in my head this is how I see time.

With further reflection, I recognize in myself how obsessed with time I am. I was really happy working for Delta Airlines in the early 1990s because everything had a timetable. Planes left, and they came in, many times late, but at the end of the day...they all left. Time was completed. I had picked up habits of examining my watch every 15 minutes to check what time it was. It wasn't until years later when my friend Christopher finally told me to quit checking my watch that I even noticed the habit.

Today I don't even wear a watch. Although this is because my previous watch would only hold a battery charge a couple of months before it ran down.

My favorite escapism into fiction is time travel. Not only Doctor Who, but also the Issac Asimov tale of the Foundation Trilogy takes place over thousands of years.

I suppose with the new year it always affects me to be more responsive to time.

I think I need to buy a new watch.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas and All That

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. It has been a very busy week. Not especially difficult, but busy.

Work is going as well as can be expected. I'm more at peace with the decision making that is going on. It is nice that our engineering department is great to work with and really wants to be a team, rather than looking at increasing power or worth.

Christmas has come and gone and 2007 is right around the corner. Crazily enough, I didn't proof-read our Christmas Cards as thoroughly as I thought I had and labeled them as "Merry Christmas 2007". I've always been a forward future thinker.

Last Friday we spent some time with our friends Lori and Justin and Gary and Kathy and my parents and sister. We usually get together for chili and have a nice quiet dinner. Alexander played on the floor with Gary for almost an hour and a half making all of their plush animals sing Christmas songs. Lori, along with her business partner Becky, own Hot Chocolates.

Saturday saw us work on cleaning the house, finishing wrapping presents and then going over to Chris and Erika Uggen's house. Our friends Michael and Krista have recently returned to Texas from several years living in Virginia and West Virginia and we got to meet their 10mo old son, Charlie. Alexander played well with Jacob and Shelby Uggen and we all had a great time renewing our friendships. Christopher and I have been friends since we were small babies living across the street from each other on Marie Terrace in Arlington. We've been friends with Michael almost that long as well.

Sunday we had church early and then Alexander was a "boy angel" during the evening service's Christmas Pageant. They sang carols and Alex even was able to wear wings and a halo. Nona and Grandaddy and his Aunt La-La came to watch the pageant.

Christmas Day saw a happy Alexander with his new kitchen playset, some board games, a set of Star Wars Galactic Heroes, a new "big-boy" chair for the dining table, and an igloo tent for playing upstairs. We had a lovely lunch with my parents and then went to go see Todd and Jenny Carlson and her parents for the evening.

Tuesday night we had our annual pot-luck with my high school friends, and last night (Wednesday) I went to The Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth with several of those friends. We started the night off well, when the waitress announced as she came up to our table (with 8 guys there):

"Wow. You guys are huge!" - meaning we were a large group. We definitely took it to mean that we were great men of enormous talent, worth, intellegence, and most likely... endowment.

I had St. Arnold's Winter Stout and really enjoyed the evening.

Tonight (Thursday) is the Texas Aggie game at the Holiday Bowl. Gig 'Em Aggies.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Making Brownie Trifle

You know, sometimes even simple things can be ok. I am going to get through this hiccup at work. Tonight, Alexander was a terrific boy. We played videogames. He took a bath without complaint and went to bed really easy. He's a terrific kid. This is a photo of him helping Meredith make brownie trifle for our friends coming over the other night. He got to stir the chocolate pudding and also lick the spatula.

Simple Pleasures. I need to have a good Christmas to remind me of that.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Lets all say this together...this week was supposed to be the "happy week." I was working on contributing to my happiness level this week by working on personal relationships and attempting to feel better about myself and my situation.

So that was working for a short time. Up until Friday afternoon. I should have known something was up when my boss was insistent to go to lunch with me. .

I should have known that something was up when the engineers were whispering on the other side of the room.

So. The Big Boss has decided to remove 60% of the job I'm working (reviewing plat submittals) and place them into the oversight of the Engineering Department. Must be implemented by the first of the year. Without any type of discussion about how efficient (or inefficient) the current process is. Just change it.

My boss feels like it is an opportunity for us to focus more on the long range planning aspects of the city we work for and not having to deal with the day-to-day stuff since 90% of the development review is engineering based. AND we have to also bring back the developer to the DAC meetings even though we have increased the efficiency of getting comments out to the developer from 4+ weeks from application to less than 2 weeks. Guaranteed.

I can handle criticism. Hell I was that guy that after a particularly bad rehearsal during a stage production that the director told me to make sure when I went home that night to take the razor blade down the wrist along the forearm and not across, because it was faster that way. I can handle that. Oh...and that statement last post about "able to handle a crisis" yeah, that still works, but only when I can clearly define what the problem is. Flat tire? - done. Bleeding profusely from a head wound? - Been there, done that. Amorphous issue with development review and pronouncements of micro-management without explanation? Not handling quite so well.

What I completely can't stand - and this stems from previous posts, so get ready - is the anticipation of problems. If you have an issue with me. Tell me. Then I can get over it and either apologize or get out of the way, because pussy-footing around me just makes me resentful and angry.

I used to lie as a small child. Mostly to make people like me. Mostly to gain some sort of sympathy with me, because I had a hard time being a worrier.

Lying got me into trouble. Lying as a small kid made the situation worse and never did achieve the results I suppose I craved at the time.

So I quit. I made the decision to stop lying to people one day and I did it. I can honestly (ha) say that I don't lie and I haven't lied (except for telling the 3 year old about Santa Claus) since I was a kid. So when people aren't completely honest with me. I feel let down and resentful. That's politics. That's life. I just hope that it works out like my boss says it should, otherwise, I'm going to have to get the resume back together again. What a pain.

Its 11:26pm on a Saturday night and all I feel is angry and tired.

I once wrote something during college that I've kept in a drawer somewhere since. I titled it: "All I want out of life is a unique thought" I wrote about how every thought that people have has most likely been thought before by someone else. The law of probabilities has to take it into account. The best inventions are those built upon the ideas of others. But I want an "A-Ha" moment. A jumping out of the bath moment. A hanging a picture over the toilet and slipping and cracking your head on the seat moment. (If you caught that reference you're watching WAY too many movies) Something all to my own. That isn't asking too much.

"There are those who believe that if anyone ever figures out what the universe is for, and why we are here, that in that instant, the universe will collapse in on itself and be replaced by something even more inexplicable. There are still others who believe that this has already happened." - Douglas Adams.

At least the bookcases will be here tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Path to Being Happy - My Dad & Star Wars Legos

I've had great evenings the past two days. Tuesday night, Meredith and Alexander went to La Leche League meeting in Denton and I was left to fend for myself. I'm still feeling "off" from my illness a week ago, so I wanted to go get some nice chicken salad and pita bread for dinner. I went to the grocery store near my parent's house and not only was their chicken salad sitting there with a solid film on it but they didn't have a pita in the place.

Feeling sorry for myself and mad at the store, and generally bummed out about work, life and everything else, I went to my parent's house where my Dad was watching TV. My Mom was out for the evening, she keeps herself constantly busy, and I just sat and talked with Dad for a couple of hours. But what made the evening great was a couple of things:

1. We worked out how to hook up his $5 set of TV rabbit ears to his 42" Samsung DLP HDTV and get local HD channels at a touch of his remote. He has had a sour relationship with Charter Cable the past several months. They couldn't get his cablecard to work correctly. Both he and I were tickled that we got his TV to work on both the broadcast air channels and the cable channels he does have.

2. We talked about his hobby of doing small metalwork sculptures. Frogs, lizards, flowers and butterflies are his favorites. I've been telling people for years that it takes an artist to work with metal like he does...especially to take a beaten vehicle and put it back together correctly and have all of the original lines of the car look exactly like they were first constructed. He is an artist, and his current work only shows it to everyone.

These two things Tuesday night did a world of good for me to feel better about myself. I've been questioning lately why I keep finding the negative aspects of my life so self-fulfilling. I'm tired of being the worry guy. I've worked hard the past 16 years to get through college and professional life to complete projects ontime and at my best effort. I have a nice life because of it...but I'm not enjoying it as I could be. I'm constantly in worry that it will come crashing down.

But it won't. And if something bad does happen, I'll get through the crisis like I always do. I'm great when things happen. I'm focused, organized and methodical. I've rushed to car accidents without a thought in Petaluma CA. I don't freak out at a crisis. Its the anticipation of a crisis or problem that kills me. Its a form of stage fright - what IF I screw up? I've been out on a stage and blown a line. I've experienced it. I didn't die and now, 10 years later, who knows or cares?

I've got to have a better life. It's the only way I'll get to feel better.

So after hanging out with Dad for a while, I went to Market Street in Colleyville. Bought a lovely chicken and artichoke salad, a green pea salad, and freshly baked pitas, then went home and watched a great show on TV. Meredith and Alexander came home and we had a nice evening.

Then, last night Meredith made a lovely dinner, Alexander ate it without complaint and as a special bonus, he and I went upstairs to the game room and played with Daddy's Star Wars Legos and built an AT-ST. If he continues to be good, we'll get to build other ships as well.

It was fun. It allowed Meredith the time to finish writing her final for her class she's teaching and get prepped for running her Weight Watchers meeting. The best thing about that I feel good.

I need more days like this.

And I'm going to get them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas went well. Check out the flickr site for the photo. My mother thought I look very authentic. Alexander didn't recognize me even sitting on my I measure that as a success.

The most funny thing of the evening was the Choirmaster coming into the Sacristy (backstage area of the Church) looking to turn off the lights after her evening organ practice and was startled to see me in full St. Nicolas regalia. Beard and extremely tall carboard mitre and everything.

She did say that she wasn't sure if she was having saintly visions or not.

Friday night we went to the annual Midwest Section Awards Banquet at the Legends of the Museum at the Ballpark in Arlington (those who are sell-outs can call it Ameriquest Field). It was a nice evening. I've enjoyed the past several (especially at the Fort Worth Zoo two years ago).

I also met with my second job boss on Thursday and have found out that the comprehensive plan project we've been working on is due in mid-January. We'll get it done. I just wish it wasn't over the holidays.

I've been enjoying doing consulting work. Not only for the financial aspects, which are considerable, but also for the opportunity to be "on the other side" of things. I've only worksed professionally as a public official. Now I also have the opportunity to represent clients and to get some experience in meeting expectations of those clients while still having the relative safety of my position with the city. As long as my work in Burleson is not interfered with, I do not take any work that would compromise my postion with the city and as long as my boss in Burleson knows and understands my other committments, everything is hunky-dory. I'm too much of a worry person to attempt to push things to the edge.

Tonight I've worked on the plan. Cleaned the house yesterday. Don't have any other responsibilities. I'm sitting in front of the fire and watching the Cowboys game. The first time I've had the chance to watch a full game all season either pro or collegiate.

I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christmas Decorating

Alexander has decided that Christmas Decorating is definitely one of his new favorite things to do. We had a time trying to convince him that not all of the ornaments should be placed at a height no greater than 32" from the floor. The artifical tree we bought looks nice. Its perky.

I think we're almost complete with the Christmas Shopping. Its been an expensive year. As I previously posted, we had lots of other expenses that we didn't know we're coming (along with the house) and just this week spent $500 to have the driveway gate and garage door repaired.

We've been watching the Bass-Rankin Christmas specials on ABC and ABC Family channels this week. Its been fun watching them with Alex since its the first time for him to have seen any of them.

We watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Year Without Santa Claus (with Snow and Heat Misers!) and tonight the Santa Claus is coming to town show with Bing Crosby.

I did take a photo from inside the house. I still need to get a hang of taking night photos without shaking the camera. I used my tripod to take a photo of the Christmas Lights on the outside of the house, but I still got the "camera shakes" to the photo.

Tomorrow I'm going to be playing my second year as "St. Nicholas" at our church in Denton. They have this event every year for the small kids. A couple of years ago they had another member of the church play the role and he turned out to be a little surly. So last year they asked me if I could do it. It turned out that I was pretty good at it. The kids at least enjoyed it. I knew many of their names, a lot about the toys they were asking for and whether they got along with their siblings (at least at church) or not. Alexander is going to participate as well this year. I'm not sure if he will recognize me or not from under the fake beard they have me wear, but he's pretty sharp. I bet he picks up on it quick. Meredith at least will be there to way-lay any attempts to remove the beard by my son.

I'll try and have some photos of the event up tomorrow night.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

First Weekend of December

So the weekend didn't start out too hot. This week I started trying to lose some weight again by getting up at 5:30am wolking a mile to two miles and then coming inside to make a fruit smoothie and then taking a shower. I would be on the road to work with a nice smoothie about 7:00am.

Friday I went out in the cold and walked, came home, and made an apple smoothie with a dab of soy milk that smelled slightly off.

Later that afternoon, I had the worst stomach pain I have experienced. I was relating to my coworkers that if felt like being kicked in the stomach...which I had experience as a child when walking around the wrong end of a cow at my Grandfather's ranch.

I missed my boss' birthday party and drove immediately home where I was promptly sick for the next six hours.

About 10:30pm Meredith called our nurse hotline with our insurance to talk about the possibility that I was having appendicitis. Luckily, the pain was beginning to subside enough somewhat for me to sleep. But most of Saturday and today, I've been really sore.

Yesterday evening I did feel better enough to take the gang and go buy a new artifical Christmas tree (pre-lit). It looks really nice by our fireplace. We also went to the Colleyville Chamber Christmas celebration. They held the event behind one of the major shopping centers instead of the town center...which I though was a little odd. We attempted to get Alexander to take his photo with the Santa Claus there, but after thinking it was a good idea, became much more sullen as soon as he was sitting there. So we got a photo of a sullen Alex with a smiling Santa. I think Meredith is going to attempt another run somewhere else with a bigger excitement level.

At the end of the event they had fireworks consisting of mostly ground shots. Alexander was scared by them, especially some which tended to scream as the burned out. He did tell us in the car that he liked "the red ones."

Today we went to church and dropped Alexander with the Church's youth group for the afternoon so we could do some Christmas Shopping. There was one particular DVD that I've been looking for as a gift for someone and every store I went to was out. So I'll go check tomorrow.

Tomorrow the guy is coming to fix our garage door opener and our gate which was damaged over the weekend...and hopefully we'll finally get the last of the furniture we ordered in September, so I can get all of the boxes out of the dining room.

Congrats to UCLA for beating the dreaded USC and really messing up the BCS poll standings. A&M are going to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on the 28th. Meredith and I were going to have people over to watch the game. Unfortunately its an afternoon game (3pm) on a Thursday so we won't be able to do much. So we'll root for Rice and South Carolina as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fear and Loathing in North Texas

I have to be honest with you. I am a worrier. Anyone and everyone who knows me, knows that I worry about getting things done, being practical, being frugal, being correct to the point of obsessiveness...but there are few things that I have phobias about. One is wasps and bees. Don't like them...keep 'em away from me. But I'm not scared to go walking through a forest or do outdoor activities because of it.

My one phobia...and I'm holding on to it with fingernails is:

Myself or people driving on ice.

I admit it. Its a lack of control thing. People lose thier frikking minds in North Texas when it ices. Driving way too fast, slamming into bridge barricades and sliding down embankments. I have to drive 25 miles each way to get to work. I'm not doing that through the center of overpass hell attempting to get to or from work. I'll call in sick or dead first.

I've had one accident and one near miss on ice. In 1994 on New Year's Eve I was driving back to Hurst from Arlington about 1 am when I hit a patch of ice crossing over Lake Arlington on I-20. My car spun completely 180 degrees and I was facing oncoming traffic. Luckily I was far enough ahead that I was able to get turned around and on my way.

The accident occurred in 1996 when it iced in Bryan and I was trying to get to work. I was on a small road and lightly tapped my brakes when I hit a curb and swung the tail end of the car into traffic and was hit from behind. I had braked because there was already police activity in the area. The police report stated no fault on my or the other driver's part, but my insurance was SUED by that guy for his injuries. He hit me! Anyway, they paid him off with $300, but it left me with worry about the next time. My Grandfather, Randall Stelly had it right:

"You watch out for the other fools on the road."

I can't control them or the weather. My best bet is to stay at home and work from the computer.

Last night, in anticipation of bad weather and no other time allowances in the coming week, I put up Christmas lights on the bushes in the front of the house. No interior decorations, just the front of the house. I went and splurged $30 at Wal-Mart for all new lights as my strands had become non-responsive after using them for several Christmases and various decoration church events over the past several years. I threw the old ones away. How much time and effort can be made to repair light strands that only cost $2 in the first place?

The only bummer of the evening last night was Alexander. He came outside excited about seeing the lights...jumping around and laughing...then he stumbled and took a header down the sidewalk leading up to the house and scraped the hide off of his left knee. Almost 2 hours later he calmed down enough to sleep.

I'm really enjoying Alexander more as we can have conversations and talk about cool things like Star Wars and Justice League, but with that happiness comes the difficult parenting of the screaming fit...the "I want this, but I don't want that" especially at mealtimes. These are typical of a three-year old, particularly a smart one with a high vocabulary. I just need to train myself better at handling those situations better. Meredith is really good with the baby aspects, but gets exasperated with the little boy aspects. I need to help her out too.

Pray for no ice accumulation.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Vicksburg, MS Battleground

Here's the photo of the Vicksburg Battleground from the Ohio Battery position looking West to the Confederate Position.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday November 26 2006

Howdy from Keller!

We arrived back from South Carolina this afternoon about 5:00 pm. The past couple of days were hectic in getting through the shopping day on Friday for Meredith and then driving the 1000 miles back to Texas from the Rentzes' house.

Friday - What can I say? Gig 'em Aggies! Can you believe a win over the 10th ranked Texas Longhorns? My only sadness was that we couldn't have beaten Oklahoma as well for the Big 12 South Title and the ability to play Nebraska next week for the Big 12 Championship. We will get to go to a "hopefully" good bowl game. Coach keeps his job for the next year...and perhaps we are on the road to comeback!

BTW, if you're reading this and are interested in coming to the house for the bowl game (whatever it is) Meredith and I are planning on having a come and go party here. I'll be flying my Texas A&M Flag.

Also on Friday was the biggest shopping day of the year and Meredith, her Mom, and niece Rachel went out to Columbia and fought the crowds for most of the day.

The most interesting thing that occurred on Friday was that Alexander gave his Grandmama one of his two plastic Superman Rings he had left over from his Superman Birthday party. I asked him if he was going to want it back and he told me "No, I gave it to her."

It was a very grown up response from a three-year old.

The following day we departed for home about 6:00am CST and had lunch at a nice rest stop in Alabama. Alexander was chasing Meredith through the leaves surrounding the picnic site, and I had a real flash...this was my family. We had never really had just "our family unit" vacation together and we were doing great! We had little problems through the week. No real arguments, just cooperation and fun.

We ended up in Vicksburg, MS after a debate whether I was too tired to drive the remaining seven hours to Keller or not. We decided that the Notre Dame/USC game would be on the TV in the hotel, we could get a nice dinner, the National Battleground park was just across the interstate from the hotel, and lo and behold, the Outlet Mall was just next door.

So we stayed.

It was a nice room. We stayed at the Jameson Inn where we could have Belgian Waffles for breakfast in the "Continental Breakfast Area."

We shopped a little at the Outlet Mall. Alexander rode one of the little storefront rides. We then went to a McAlister's Deli for dinner where Alex ate all of his hot dog after Daddy threatened to go get the mustard to finish it off for him.

We watched a stupid movie on TV while flipping back and forth to the football game, reveled in the fact that South Carolina (The True USC) beat Clemson earlier in the day (Grandmama attributed the win to the "lucky" Superman Ring) and had a relaxing evening.

Then this morning, we had our breakfast and went to the National Park for the Vicksburg Battleground. A fascinating drive of about 20 miles of park roads winding through all of the still existing trenches. Monuments to individual states and divisions of both the Confederate and Union Armies and detailed troop movements document the site. Flanking the site between the battleground and the city center of Vicksburg is the National Cemetery.

Alexander learned the word "obelisk" and accurately described several that we saw through the site. What terrified me was the closeness of the lines to each other and the ability to view the opposing gun emplacements. I have been on several battlefields before. Primarily in the West and in Normandy, France. What was shocking for me was the sense of immediacy.

We are now at home and are working towards getting to our week. Check out the photos on the site and if you can't see those, you can look at them at

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Thursday November 23 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! We got up this morning to the sound of duck hunters once again blasting their birdshot across the lake. We drove to Greenwood, SC and had a lovely Thanksgiving with Meredith's Grandaddy Young. Brooksie's sister's family including Jo Beth and Jerry, Russell and his wife, Rhonda, Laura and Meredith's niece, Rachel all joined us there for the dinner.

The assisted living center has a room to check out to residents with a small prep kitchen attached where we set out the dinner. My turkey was a big hit. All the dishes were terrific, with Laura's bean casserole and Russell and Rhondas dessert-like sweet potato dish. Dessert was a Young family tradition, a custard like dish called Charlotte. It isn't like the dish Charlotte Russe, but it is really nice the way they make it.
After dinner we sat in a common area, and Alexander played superhero with Jerry and his daughter Laura. Alexander had to explain that he was "The Flash" while Jerry was "Superman." I believe Laura ended up becoming a villan and was placed in "jail" several times. Grandaddy Young even got into the act by tossing superhero zaps at Alexander.
Once we returned to the Rentzes' house we walked out to the dock, where yesterday's rains have finally raised the river level back up high enough to float the end of the dock. The setting sun lit up the trees on the opposite bank and made for some nice widescreen photos.
Meredith has made reservations for a hotel in Vicksburg on the way back for Saturday night. We are planning on leaving here early Saturday and arriving back in Keller by late afternoon on Sunday.
Again, I hope your holiday was terrific.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

South Carolina in the Rain

Greetings again from rainy South Carolina. A sub tropical wave low pressure system has come in from the Carolina coast and dropped several inches of rain on Charleston and at least a couple of inches here in the Midlands.

Alexander is feeling much better. We went and purchased him some nasal decongestant and he seems to be doing great. No more upset stomach since yesterday morning.

We went out shopping this morning in the driving rain. After dropping off Rachel and Meredith's mother at a women's store, the rest of us drove around a bit and ended up at a South Carolina foods store and then to Toys R Us. To our knowledge, Alexander had never been inside a TRU before and went completely nuts. He was only cajoled out of the store with the promise of a couple of gummy bears in the car.

After returning to the house I cooked the brined turkey from the night before and it is now waiting for me to finish the blog and go and cut it up for tomorrow.

Meredith's maternal grandfather, John C. Young, is her only remaining grandparent. A WWII infantry veteran, he continues to live in the town where he grew up, married, and raised a family in Greenwood, South Carolina. His family, including us, are going to visit him at his assisted living residence in Greenwood for Thanksgiving dinner. I will be taking our camera with us for some photos of the event.

Meredith is mapping out a strategy for Black Friday shopping. She thinks that she may get what she wants to get at Wal-Mart at 7:00am rather than attempting to get going at 5:00am with the rest of the consumer-crazy nation.

I did the early Friday morning once a couple of years ago. I spent 2 hours in line at Best Buy purchasing a copy of a DVD to save a mere $15. If I had spent those 2 hours doing something for work, I would have been paid much more than that. I'm not doing it again. Even for that kind of a sale. If I can't afford it on Monday morning, I really didn't need the item anyway.

I'm a little tired of spending money on things I need for the house. With new furniture, repairs to the garage, some car repairs this fall, and a new set of teeth for Alexander coming in the new year (5 of his baby molars have been affected by some genetic softness and perhaps softness from his small bout with pneumonia a couple of years ago), I'm feeling a little tapped out. The Mustang is going to start needing regular large part repair and I need to seriously look into purchasing a new family-size vehicle in the coming year. I'm leaning towards the Ford Freestyle or the Honda CR-V.

So come back for the photos tomorrow and don't hesitate to leave me feedback on these messages.

One other thing, I have been really enjoying working on this trip blog and I intend to continue to use it as a diary of things I'm thinking about and life as it happens and how I make it happen. I'm hoping that my two sons Alexander and a player to be named later will read it and enjoy some of the musings of their father.

See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday November 21 2006

Sorry for no update yesterday. It turned out that we didn't do much of anything. The Rentzes had their house exterminated for termites (there's a bunch of the little buggers in the woods - go figure!) so I had to help Dad Rentz with pulling everything out into the middle of the garage and out from underneath the house. That took most of the morning yesterday.

In the evening Alexander and I watched Justice League on DVD while Meredith played on the computer. The Rentzes had a Lions Club meeting to go to. We didn't feel like going to the bbq place after all.

This morning, Alexander presented us with a new aspect to his life. He actually was vomiting ill for the first time ever. He has had a stuffy nose for several days and I think all of the drainage really upset his tummy. So this morning we cleaned out our schedule and spent the day resting hoping he will be better for tomorrow and especially Thursday to spend with other family for the holiday. Rachel finished her class this morning and arrived this afternoon (carefully because its raining with a mix of sleet - but not sticking). The weather looks much better for the rest of the week and especially the drive home on Saturday and Sunday.

I've spent a lot of time reading which has been a real treat. I haven't pleasure read for several months. I'm currently reading The Joiner King a post - New Republic era Star Wars book. There's a link to the book on the left of the yourminis webpage.

I've had a little feedback about the yourminis website. Some people haven't been able to see it. If you're having trouble, update your verison of Flash Player to (7) and make sure you have the ActiveX control enabled for the website.

Tomorrow it's Turkey Cooking. I'm doing the Brine Turkey from Alton Brown and Food Networks' Good Eats.

Have a great day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday November 19 2006

Rachel, Jo Beth and Jerry and Dick and Phyllis came over for brisket dinner and we had a lovely time. Alexander had a grand time showing off for everyone. This evening, Rachel has decided to stay the night and go back to her classes in Newberry in the morning. She is now reading stories to Alexander and he is soaking it all in.

Tomorrow the Rentzes have to go to a Lions Club meeting. Meredith, Alexander and I are going to Shealy's BBQ (there's a theme going on...if you haven't noticed) in Batesburg-Leesville. My favorite South Carolina mustard-based BBQ.

Sunday November 19 2006

We left the house at 1pm on Friday and drove the 6 hours to Vicksburg, MS. We stayed at the Ameristar Casino hotel. We checked in and went to get Wendy's for dinner and spent more time there than we would have liked due to two guys getting arrested in the parking lot for fighting.

In the morning we had to take the shuttle bus from the hotel down to the large riverboat style casino for breakfast. The hotel provided us with complementary breakfast buffet tickets for the morning. So bright and early Saturday morning we get down to the lobby and get on the bus. We spoke with some really nice people arriving for work at the casino. The advertisements for all of the games, the big prizes (a 2007 Pontiac Solstice), and Bill Engvall who is going to perform there next week, were all over the place. We entered in..and right onto the casino floor. The breakfast buffet was upstairs. Through the casino. So the security guard showed us the way to the escalator ensuring that we didn't violate state and federal law by plugging a quarter into a slot machine with a three-year-old in arms.

The breakfast was ok, but we were glad we didn't pay full prive for it. So after having security call back down and escort us out of the casino (you would think that a place attempting to be more "family friendly" would treat people better than that) we walked around the welcome station overlooking the river and were on our way.

After seeing 30 miles of bumper to bumper traffic flowing in to Tuscaloosa coming from Birmingham for the Iron Bowl game between Alabama and Auburn (luckily going the other way) we arrived in Birmingham about 1:00pm. Coming in on I-20 into the city, you veer around a small hill and then have a large view of the downtown nestled in the valley. We saw our good friends Chris and Anissa Hatcher and met their beautiful son, Nolan Zachary (Zach) who will be 18 months in a couple of weeks. They took us to a great BBQ place (southern pulled pork sandwich!) and we walked around the five points area of Birmingham. There is lots of redevelopment occuring in Birmingham as the economy has improved in the area the past several years. Like other major cities, you see where many buildings have regentrified for downtown loft and condo living. As we were walking down the street, Alex and Zach both took my hand and I felt great that these two awesome humans liked me! They chased each other around. Zach has no fear about people which is nice in some situations, but not so when there are some panhandlers around!

We ended our vist with the Hatchers by following them to their new house/redevelopment project located if I remember correctly in the Norwood Neighborhood. The house was originally constructed in the 1900s and has a full -size basement running along the entirity of the house. The Hatchers have spent a lot of time with the local redevelopment-organization as a pilot project for the neighborhood. There have been many setbacks (they were supposed to be in the house in June) but hopefully they will be in soon after Thanksgiving. I worked with Chris in Denton several years ago, before he moved back to his native Birmingham. It was terrific seeing him and his beautiful family. We are really blessed in this life to have friends in which we don't see for years and can pick up the friendship right where we left off.

We left Birmingham about 3pm and drove almost non-stop (once in Atlanta for gas and bathroom break) to South Carolina. I really felt like we were getting there once we reached Augusta, GA at the GA/SC border.

This morning the Rentzes have gone to church and we're relaxing. This evening, Meredith's cousin Rachel, Brooksie's college roomate and her husband are visiting for dinner. More photos to come!

Thursday - November 16 2006 Evening

It's the night before the big trip to South Carolina. I have packed myself and put together some toys and books for Alexander. We're going to be bringing a bunch of DVDs and a portable DVD player for him and one of us to watch in the back seat as deterrent to road boredom.

We're going to be staying in Vicksburg, MS tomorrow night and meeting with Chris Hatcher and his family in Birmingham, AL on Saturday for lunch.Chris is renovating a historic home in the downtown area and is anxious to show us all of the work he has put it to it. I'll be posting photos to a flickr account which will show up as a mini on this page. The uploading will have to wait until I get to South Carolina and the Rentzes' computer.

Thursday - November 16 2006

Thanks to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks for pointing me to the website from his excellent "Blog Maverick" website. I'll be editing things here during our trip to South Carolina and also hopefully posting some photos to a site where they can be seen from this page. Meanwhile, check out yourminis dashboard website and play around a bit. You can either use that page as a starting point, or create your own page.